1/26/2016

Sawubona South Africa!

Meet Mona-Marie, one of our Dual Study Program students. As well as sharing her time between academic theoretical learning at the Hamburg School of Business Administration in Hamburg and gaining practical experience at our Headquarters in Hamburg, she’s just spent three months in South Africa as part of Beiersdorf’s Dual Study Program.

In the final year of the course for the Bachelor of Science Business Administration degree, high-performing students can spend time at one of our overseas subsidiaries – and Mona-Marie chose our affiliate in the suburb of Umhlanga, Durban.

“I’ve always associated South Africa with very warm and joyful people. And that’s exactly what I found. I am fascinated by the joie de vivre, the people’s optimism and their unbelievable hospitality”, says the 22-year-old.

The local business language there is English but new arrivals are often greeted with “sawubona”, the Zulu term for “hello”.“
It was definitely the right decision. In South Africa we have 85 employees. I now know every one of them. I definitely can’t say that about Hamburg!"

“I read a lot about the country and the culture beforehand”, says Mona-Marie of her preparations. Before she applied for the position, she sought out some trainees and employees who had already spent a length of time there. “They only strengthened my decision for Durban.”

From daily operations to project work, Mona-Marie was completely integrated into day-to-day work life. “It was really exciting for me to gain insight into the country-specific Supply Chain. What I learned will help me in other departments as well.”

Because South Africa doesn’t have its own production facilities, they need to import materials from production centers in Hamburg, Madrid and Thailand. “One of my projects was creating a report containing all the data about shipping, storage, distribution and reverse logistics. This gave me a good overview of processes.” A quick trip to the warehouse in Durban was also part of her program. It was nothing compared to the processes that Mona-Marie knew from Germany: “Almost everything is done manually”, she says, “there are almost no machines.”

As well as working hard, Mona-Marie got the opportunity to enjoy the local landscape, running three kilometers every morning on the beach before work, and meet the local people – at the street markets and rugby matches.

Before she returned to Hamburg, Mona-Marie traveled almost 1.800 km through South Africa with her backpack to Cape Town. “That was a great highlight at the end!”